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NLM Launches "Health Information Rx Pilot Project" with Osteopathic Physicians

When a doctor sees a patient, he or she often prescribes medications. But what if a doctor also wants to direct a patient to current, reliable, consumer-friendly information about a genetic condition, or overviews about illness, health and disease prevention?

Under a new pilot program, more than 12,000 members of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) from Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, and Florida are encouraged to refer their patients to MedlinePlus.gov, a free, trustworthy, patient-friendly Web site of the National Library of Medicine(NLM). MedlinePlus.gov is available on the Internet at: www.medlineplus.gov.

"Part of a physician's job is to explain illnesses, diagnoses and treatments to their patients," says Donald A.B. Lindberg, MD, Director of the National Library of Medicine. "NLM's MedlinePlus.gov provides authoritative, user-friendly, and commercial-free information that doctors can use to supplement information provided in the office or clinic. We think it saves time and improves doctors' communications with patients, in addition to its obvious value in helping keep the public healthy."

Under this new pilot program, about one-third of AOA's member physicians will be urged to "prescribe" information from MedlinePlus using a special "prescription pad" given to patients during office visits.

"Physicians have always known that an informed patient who takes an active role is a ''better' patient," notes John A. Strosnider, DO, President, American Osteopathic Association. "We believe that both patients and their doctors will welcome this additional tool-good medical information-in their continuing efforts to provide good health care, for patients and their families."

MedlinePlus.gov has information on more than 700 diseases and conditions, and links to pre-formulated searches of the MEDLINE database, which enables anyone to find references to the latest professional articles on health topics. Under each topic, patients will find information on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, current news stories, research studies, clinical trials, helpful graphics, and interactive tutorials. Medline Plus accepts no advertising and most information in available in English and Spanish.

The AOA and the NLM Information Rx Pilot program provides participating physicians with a poster, bookmarks, and a supply of prescription pads, which can be used to write in a disease or condition and advise patients how to look up information on MedlinePlus. The NLM's National Network of Libraries of Medicine will help patients who have questions about access to MedlinePlus.

A similar Information Rx Project, pointing patients to NLM's MedlinePlus database, was launched in 2003 with the American College of Physicians. This earlier program was well received by participating physicians and their patients nationwide.

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